Butter is one of the most essential elements in the culinary world. Most dishes require this milky solid to give it a rich, flavorful taste along with a creamy texture. From making desserts, sautéing veggies to making scrambled eggs, there is no field left for butter to conquer.
Even though butter has high calories and fat content, we can all agree that butter makes everything taste better. However, there is no going about the fact that brown butter beats your regular butter in all aspects.
While retaining that familiar taste of butter, brown butter has a nutty and caramelized flavor that makes it rich and flavorful. For those of you who have never tried brown butter, once you get a taste of it and its enticing aroma, we can guarantee you that you will never get enough of brown butter for the rest of your life.
In simple words, brown butter is a toasted version of butter where it gets cooked past butter’s melting point till it eventually gives the butter a warm brown color and a hazelnut-caramel flavor. Not to mention it has a fancy name too – beurre noisette. This can either be loosely translated to brown butter but the actual translation would be hazelnut butter.
Just like butter itself, brown butter can be used in everything. It is a perfect substitute for butter but even better! Waffles, pancakes and tons of other food pair up with it greatly. If brown butter is as delicious as everyone says, you may think it will be a very good idea to keep it at hand at all times.
But to do that, you need to make brown butter because honestly even though some brands do sell brown butter it is always worth it to make it yourself. Not only will it save you a lot of money but honing a new skill for those who love cooking will also be rather incredible.
Frankly, brown butter is quite easy to make but if you make even the slightest of mistakes, then you may end up making a mess of it. So, in an attempt to help you avoid a disaster and to make palatable dishes with brown butter, we have made a thorough guide for you to follow in order to make your own brown butter!
Making Brown Butter
- Step 1: Slicing the butter stick
Now, remember to make the perfect brown butter, you will need unsalted butter. Salted butter will definitely alter the taste and also, although negligible, the melting point will be different for salted butter. Hence the results may differ from ours and it may not be what you were expecting it to be. So, we suggest that you use unsalted butter instead of a salted one. Better being safe than sorry.
Also, if you are wondering which state your butter should be in, do not worry, we have got your back! The butter can be in a soft form from being kept at room temperature or in a solid form taken out directly from the fridge. In the end, the butter will end up getting melted so whichever of the states your butter is in, it will hardly make a difference.
Coming back to the task at hand, take the unsalted butter bar and by either approximating or using the measurements that are often shown on the packaging of the butter, slice the bar into ½ inch wide slices. That in centimeters should be 1.3. After you slice the butter in this way, you can make another cut in the middle running horizontally. This will result in smaller pieces that will be easier to melt.
You do not really have to be very precise about this but it is critical that all the pieces are of similar sizes. All the slices are required to melt at the same rate and in order to get that done, the sizes need to be identical. Otherwise, the chunks of butter will never melt evenly and jeopardize the making of your brown butter.
- Step 2: Picking the perfect saucepan
This step may seem of little importance but not following this will get you into trouble. Pick a saucepan that has a heavy bottom and is also of light color. The quality of the saucepan holds a key to making the perfect brown butter. If the pan is light-weighted, the heat will not spread evenly and all the butter slices will not melt at the same time. And as we’ve mentioned before, it is crucial that all the slices melt at the same speed and time. Heavy saucepans, on the other hand, allow even melting of the butter.
Make sure the saucepan is also of light color since it will make observing the color of the butter easier later on in the process. The darker the color of the pan, the more difficult it will be to notice the changes. For one, when you add the butter, it may look okay, but when it starts to color, the actual hue of the cooking butter will look darker to you. This will lead you to take it off the heat at the wrong time and the result will not be as satisfactory as you would expect it to be.
Stainless steel pots that are non-stick will be just fine for making the brown butter but avoid using anything made from iron or any pan that has a dark interior. Some culinary experts also make use of deep and heavy frying pans.
- Step 3: Melting the butter
The next step will be to melt the butter. Stick the butter into the pan before you put it on the stove. Only after this are you allowed to put it on the burner and turn on the heat to its medium setting. Setting the burner on low will cost you more time and effort while setting it to high will be faster but with it will come the risk of burning the butter quickly and easily. Hence, medium or medium-low will be the best way to go.
The butter will melt eventually taking its own time depending on the state of the butter and size of the chunks. Firm ones will definitely take more time in comparison to softer slices. The results, nonetheless, will be the same – a golden pool of melted butter.
Continually stir the slices to speed up the process and remember not to wait for the butter to melt on its own. The stirring will ensure the melting of the butter before the milk solids begin to toast. We recommend using a whisk or spatula for this.
- Step 4: Browning the butter
Continue whisking at a moderate pace even if the butter has melted. No matter what you do, do not stop the whisking or stirring. Otherwise, the butter at the bottom of the pan will likely get burnt before you know it.
At this point, now that all the butter has melted, the liquid will start to foam and bubble as the water evaporates from the butter. This is the point where you truly start observing the butter because the milk solids which have detached themselves from the butterfat will now start to cook. Continue stirring to avoid burning the milk solids at all costs because if you stop, some solids will burn away before being cooked, and you wouldn’t really want that to happen.
As the liquid cooks, the foaming will lessen and vanish at one point when all the water has evaporated. Then you will be able to observe brown spots forming which can be interpreted as the milk solids being toasted and you’ll also be able to see a little browning in certain small areas.
Keep an eye out for any black or too dark spots which will be an indicator that the solids are burning rather than browning. In that case specifically, bring the heat to low or adjust as needed.
- Step 5: Proceed with the whisking or stirring
After the brown specks appear, keep stirring at a moderate speed. The specks will eventually fade out as the entire golden liquid will start to turn light-brown releasing a faint but amazing aroma at this point. Somewhat like roasted hazelnut and caramel.
Remember, the fragrant is also a key player here. If it smells exactly as we told you it should, then there is really nothing to worry about. However, keep taking a whiff every now and then because if the butter starts to burn then it will probably give off a burnt odor and you’ll know that it’s time to turn down the heat. However, to be safe and to avoid that, keep track of the color of the butter and stir it non-stop.
- Step 6: Taking it off the heat
Knowing when to take the butter off the heat is another critical part of making brown butter. Take the butter off the heat when it turns from light brown to amber with a tint of hazelnut brown.
Remember, no matter what you do, when taking the butter off the heat, make sure it looks a shade lighter than you want or have seen it to be. This is because even though the heat source has been taken away, the heat from the pan will continue to cook and brown the milk solids. Do not forget to keep stirring even after you have taken the saucepan off the burner.
- Step 7: Transfer and cool
Transfer your butter to a dish or bowl that can withstand heat which can either be ceramic or metal but certainly not plastic. But before you do that, take half a minute or 30 seconds to cool the butter by stirring it in the pan. Leaving it in the pan for longer than the allotted time will most definitely cause the butter to cook more than needed or even cause it to burn. So better to pour it in the dish, following the instructions meticulously.
The time needed to make brown butter will vary from person to person as it solely depends on the amount of butter you are using. On medium heat, half a pound of butter would roughly take 13-15 minutes to brown.
Take the dish and let it rest so that it can cool down. And afterwards, if you plan to use it in any of your dishes, feel free to do so because you have successfully made yourself the perfect brown butter anyone could ever ask for. If you do not plan to make use of it immediately, it is better to store it in the refrigerator where it will stay intact for about a fortnight or two weeks.
If you want to store it for longer periods, then it is recommended that you freeze it in a cube form using the ice tray. This will not only allow you to unfreeze the amount of butter that you will actually need but also save you the trouble of melting or heating the entire brown butter for your use and then restore and re-freeze it all over again. And there is always the chance of burning the butter if you were planning to thaw the entire butter by heating it on the stove. So, go for the more convenient way – use the ice trays!
If you are wondering what to make using this delicious butter then just incorporate it with anything that you might add butter to. Though we should probably warn you that brown butter pairs itself better with desserts than any other thing due to the nutty flavor. Try chocolate chip cookies with them and it is certain that the cookies will blow you away.
Another remarkable dessert you could try is brown butter ice cream. If the cookies had not really impressed you much then, this one surely will. The sensation of sweet, rich butter melting in your mouth will sweep you right off your feet! Thus go ahead and use your skills to prepare dishes with brown butter that will make people lick their fingers even after they are done eating!